Tigers shutout in CAA championship, JMU advances to NCAA Tournament
The fourth-seeded Towson Tigers fell to the top-seeded James Madison Dukes, 4-0, in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game. It was the Tigers’ fifth championship appearance in school history.
With the win, the Dukes are headed to the NCAA tournament.
Junior pitcher Missy McCormick, who started all four games for the Tigers (29-25) in the tournament, threw six innings and allowed four earned runs on nine hits. McCormick finished the season 17-11 with a 2.78 earned run average.
Dukes’ pitcher Heather Kiefer shut down the Tigers’ offense by throwing six shutout innings and allowing just three hits. Kiefer improved to 20-7 on the season with a 2.01 ERA.
The Tigers’ best opportunity to score came in the second when they loaded the bases with nobody out. Freshman left fielder Jessica South reached on a fielder’s choice, but the Dukes’ were able to convert a double play. Sophomore first baseman Courtney Johnson struck out to end the inning for the Tigers, leaving two runners on base.
The Dukes (44-13) took a 3-0 lead in the third inning with the help of an RBI single and a two-run double. They tacked on an insurance run in the sixth inning off an RBI single to center field.
The Tigers went down in order in the seventh inning to end their season.
“It was a clean win for James Madison and they just showed that they were the better team so it’s not that difficult to accept even though it’s still disappointing,” junior shortstop Hailey Balk said.
The Tigers defied the odds by making it to the CAA title game. Despite losing the first game of the tournament against the Dukes on Wednesday, they battled back and defeated two teams Thursday, whom they’ve had trouble with in the past.
They beat the College of Charleston Cougars 8-6 and Hofstra Pride 5-4 in back-to-back games to advance to the championship.
The game against the Cougars was highlighted by a two-out, tie-breaking grand slam by McCormick in the fifth inning. She finished with two home runs and six runs batted in the game.
A four-run first inning against the Pride was the key to the Tigers’ victory. The game ended in a dramatic fashion, as a dropped fly ball by Tigers’ second baseman Nicole Delgado led to a rundown, which ended the game and propelled the Tigers into the title game.
The Tigers will return next season to a new stadium and with renewed confidence that they can bring home a CAA title for Towson.